By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — Woodland’s fall sports season was cut short, but the Woodland timber team did some cutting of its own.
The Hawks staged their inaugural Woodland Battle Royale on Nov. 20, the team’s first event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of facing other schools in the Connecticut Timber League as usual, coach Bobby Murdy split his team into four seven-person squads to give the Hawks a competitive environment.
“Since we are the only team in the Connecticut Timber League operating this year and all of our fall fair competitions were cancelled, it would be Woodland vs. Woodland vs. Woodland vs. Woodland,” Murdy said. “These teams have trained for weeks with each member competing in events for a group score. These group competitions are how college competitions are organized.”
The squads were each led by captains — Lauren Mulinski, Tyler Smith, Amber Tanguay and Marrisa O’Rourke — and competed in the axe throw, the log roll, men’s and women’s bow saw, and the men’s and women’s pulp toss.
“We had to eliminate some normal events, like crosscut, due to social distancing, while modifying others, like making pulp toss from a four-person to a two-person (event), plus additional cleaning of equipment between uses,” Murdy said.
Tanguay’s team earned the victory by scoring 46 of a possible 64 points. Her teammates included Nick Sciarretto, Kaitlyn Sirois, Nick Bshara, Jakob DeCampos and Connor Mason.
Other top performers included O’Rourke, who hit a bull’s eye with the first-ever throw on Woodland’s new competition deck, Peter Dupre, who won the men’s bow saw in 8.17 seconds on an 8 1/2-inch pine log, and Jacob Howson and Hunter Laudate, who set a course record with a 28.7-second log roll.
While the team practiced all fall on its new competition deck near the school cafeteria, the Woodland Battle Royale was the first competitive event at the new facility.
“The competition deck is amazing,” Murdy said. “With the school support in addition to community support, like Beacon Hose Co. No. 1, the Woodland Timber Team has a competition stage on par with some professional shows. Eventually, it will hold four sawyers and one axe thrower. Not only does it give the kids the best performance possible, but it is something that the kids are proud of and proud to be part of.”
Mulinski, who is also a junior firefighter at Beacon Hose, said it was a great day for the team that featured both competition and teamwork.
“I’m really, really proud of the team,” Mulinski said. “We might have been split up into four teams, but in the end we all worked together to help each other out.”